World Cup 2026 to expand again with 48 teams, 104 matches

TEHRAN, Mar. 14 (MNA) – FIFA is set to confirm a new format for the 2026 World Cup, extending the tournament to 104 games over likely 39 days.

The decision will be approved at a meeting of the FIFA Council later on Tuesday in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, where world football’s bosses have gathered for their annual congress on Thursday, the Athletic reported. 

Hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States, the 2026 edition was already going to be the biggest World Cup, with 48 teams, and will now be the longest, too.

The original idea was to have 16 groups of three, with the top two processing to a 32-team knockout competition. That format would have involved 80 games, up from the 64-game format FIFA has used since 1998.

But groups of three have two significant drawbacks: you lose the excitement of the final round of simultaneous group-stage games, and you increase the chance of the two teams in the last game colluding to engineer the result they need.

The new format is for 12 groups of four, with the eight best third-placed teams joining the top two in the knockout rounds. This restores the jeopardy of the final round of group-stage games and reduces the chance of collusion.

The extra week will be found by cutting the pre-tournament release period from 23 days to 16, which is slightly less than previous summer tournaments but twice as long as players were given to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar. Although the official date for the opening match has not yet been announced, FIFA is on course to maintain the tournament’s “footprint” to 56 days, 16 days before it starts and then 39 days of competition.

What this change means for the allocation of games between the three host nations remains to be seen, as the US was staging 60 games in the original format, with Canada and Mexico getting 10 each.


News Code 198524


Your Comment

You are replying to: .
  • captcha